Honor & Sacrifice is a 28-minute historical documentary by Lucy Ostrander and Don Sellers that illuminates the little-known experience of Japanese Americans who had family living in Japan during World War II. The story of Roy Matsumoto embodies that experience, providing a compelling narrative that engages the audience while also helping them to understand the greater historical context and significance.
Roy fought behind Japanese lines with the famed American guerrilla unit, Merill’s Marauders, while he had three brothers fighting for the Japanese and his parents were living in their ancestral home, Hiroshima. The film, narrated by Roy’s daughter Karen, interweaves three stories of the Japanese American experience:
- The first large Japanese immigration movement to the United States in the early part of the 20th century
- The widespread incarceration of Japanese Americans by the U.S. government during the war
- The extraordinary sacrifices required to prove loyalty to country while having close family in enemy lands.
Many Nisei (second-generation Japanese Americans) did not talk about their experience, and in Roy’s case, he was ordered to keep his military intelligence work a secret for 50 years. At age 101, Matsumoto could now share his story, a feat the filmmakers are grateful for to guide them through this important and unknown history.
The film has had extensive screenings in educational and general settings, for both public and academic audiences. To date, the film has been acquired by 64 colleges, where it has been incorporated into many curricula. It is also available in 28 public libraries and high schools. The filmmakers continue to promote the film through its website and social media pages in order to continue to expand its reach.
Honor & Sacrifice represents the culmination of decades of work for the documentary filmmakers. They uncovered the essential narratives needed to weave together three distinct stories working together to provide the necessary context to understand the bravery of these soldiers. While the film successfully tells the little-known story of Japanese-Americans who had family living in Japan while fighting in the Pacific, the filmmakers wanted to convey a more subtle theme. Unstated but inherent throughout the film, Honor & Sacrifice is as much the story of the ways in which America receives its strength from its diversity.